One story to come out of Liverpool’s 4-1 win over West Ham on Saturday that shouldn’t be overlooked: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s first Premier League goal for Liverpool. His came in the second half, less than a minute after Manuel Lanzini scored to break Liverpool’s clean sheet and pull West Ham within one goal of leveling the score. AOC’s goal didn’t win the game, but it did kill West Ham’s momentum before it had a chance to get going, and ensured that Mohamed Salah’s second goal 15 minutes later would bank those three points.
But even without the goal, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had a decent game. He started in his preferred position in central midfield, and based on his performance today there’s a decent case to be made for letting him stay there whenever feasible. There’s also a defensible argument to be made that he’ll only get better with more minutes and more opportunities to prove himself.
But Oxlade-Chamberlain isn’t making those arguments himself. In post-match comments to reporters, Ox preferred to talk about his teammates instead.
On the kind of counterattacking football on display by Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane on Liverpool’s first goal:
“That’s the way the manager wants to play, it’s playing into the strengths of our players. That was a great example of how to do it. There were a few more opportunities, especially in the second half, where we could have scored from a few more counters. Unfortunately some of them didn’t go in but we got the job done and that was the most important thing.”
On Salah’s goalscoring and his role in the team:
“For someone to have to that goal return so quickly, settling into a new team as well, is an amazing achievement. But if you speak to Mo, he’s not carried away, he doesn’t get too excited and he wants to keep doing it. It is credit to him, that’s the kind of guy he is – he wants to always achieve more. We need that in the team. So hopefully he can keep doing what he’s been doing and adding the goals. But it’s important that all of us around him support with goals as well because there might be a time when he has a few games where he doesn’t score, and we’ve all got to be able to chip in. Mo has been on fire and I hope he can continue that way.”
On Sadio Mane’s triumphant return to the side:
“For someone to come back from an injury, not train too long and put in a performance like that – when I’m sure he’s not even at his best, not at full match fitness – you can’t really tell. He was sharp as ever and got two assists. He was a real threat all day, running and driving with the ball, getting free-kicks. He has definitely been a miss and it’s great to see him back. I’m sure in the next few games he can keep improving and being as deadly as he has been.”
And finally, on Jurgen Klopp’s strategy:
“We had a game plan and we stuck to it all game. We wanted to be dangerous on the break and the first goal showed how deadly we can be – from defending a corner to scoring as quickly as we did. That was exactly what we wanted to do today. Then it was key for us to make sure we defended well; West Ham came out in the second half and made it tough, it was a really intense game. In the second half, we showed time and time again what a threat we are on the break. We created a lot of opportunities. Four goals and we probably could have had some more. It was a really good win all round.”
It was a good win, wasn’t it? More of this, please!